Reflections and Resolutions

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Flag of United States  , Illinois
Saturday, January 19, 2013

Happy New Year! I realize I am a little delayed in updating and posting here, but better late than never, or so they say...

Since I can remember, one of my goals has been to see, no, experience at least one new country a year. 2012, it seems, was a lucky one for me. I got to visit THREE new countries, and each trip was in the company of some of my favorite people. I had dreamed of going to Jordan for years (admittedly because of Petra, at first), and in September I was able to spend nine days traveling throughout the country. It was an experience beyond anything I could have imagined, and it now sits in my 'top 5' category along with India, Italy, Egypt and Turkey. Before Jordan, however, I got to start the year with visits to Cambodia and Thailand. Angkor Wat was another site that sat close to the top of my 'list' and while Angkor Wat itself was truly magnificent, I was left more in awe of the other sites that make up Angkor.

Along with the three new countries, I managed to see some of the places I have been a number of times (i.e. London and Dubai) in a new light. In fact, my last trip to Dubai in December marked my 21st trip there (I think). 21! Surely that is not normal. However, on this trip, I finally found the 'soul' of the place I enjoy being in, but have often found devoid of the beautiful, while often misunderstood, history and culture of the rest of the region. I saw the old city and met some people whose families originally settled there from Iran generations ago.

2012 was unique in another way as well. Even with so many amazing travel plans/adventures, I was reminded of what a 'normal' life looks like. I have been doing this so long, I forgot what it is like to be in one place for longer than a week or two. I spent the entire summer here in my adopted home of Chicago. Anyone who has been here knows how amazing this place is. I am not sure anyone can convince me there is a better place to be, especially in the summer. It sounds really silly to some, but I got used to being able to actually commit to things and have some sort of routine. I remembered what it is like to call a place 'home' and experience everyday life in your city, to attend neighborhood art and music festivals (ever so popular in this city), to schedule a time to read every Tuesday in Millenium Park or the Riverwalk, to meet new people and spend real time with friends, to accept and entertain visitors, to well, live like a resident of somewhere.

My dream, for over seven years has been to travel and travel, and then travel some more. To see and experience as much of the world as possible any chance I get was my heart's greatest desire. I have had one of the greatest fortunes life can offer--a fulfilled dream. I have literally been living my dream, and it has enriched my life and existence in a way I cannot find words for. I have seen the wonders of the world and the wonders of humanity, the latter has been far more awe-inspiring than the former. I do not regret one single moment of the time I have spent away, but like all things, with time, dreams evolve. Maybe I am getting old or maybe wise or maybe just bored, or maybe circumstances and events I did not expect have, over the last few months, forced me to slow down and realize that that's not so bad.

As those of you who know me (and those of you who know me only through this blog have probably realized), I love my lists. I sometimes look at my 'list' (which is really a world map), not to cross anything off or see how many places I have been, but the opposite, to mark where I want to go next, or again. I have always had a 'top three' life's mission/dreams. I won't spell those out here though. Traveling the world has always, and will remain, in the top 3, but now, now it is time to look at the other two.

That said, I don't believe in making actual resolutions just because a new year started. I make resolutions, so to speak, whenever I feel like I need to, professionally or personally. I do, however, believe in travel resolutions and at the start of the year try to identify where I will go the coming year. Here's to 2013!

2013 Travel Resolutions
Ecuador
South Africa
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